Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave a green light to Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) this week to create and retain rural jobs and secure affordable housing. Vilsack’s announcement included a major grant of $200,000 for CDI from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and support for 28 other centers, totaling $5.8 million in Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) funding this year. CDI will use the award to create cooperative businesses and networks that grow a prosperous, equitable economy in the Northeast, in line with Vilsack’s comments that the RCDG awards would “strengthen America’s ‘Main Street’ businesses.”
The RCDG program provides funding for technical assistance, such as CDI’s work developing food systems, converting traditional businesses, securing affordable housing, and training cooperatives at all stages of development. All RCDG project activities must be for the benefit of rural areas. The funding covers work such as feasibility studies, strategic planning, leadership and operations training, and business plan development.
“Cooperative Development Institute’s work spans the northeastern United States, a region rich with rural communities,” offered CDI’s Executive Director Noemi Giszpenc. “We have helped to create over 120 co-ops and 400 jobs in many sectors in our 20+ years in operation, and thanks to RCDG funding, we’ll continue to do so in 2016 and 2017.”